Surface Forces: August 2, 2002


Italy has begun work on the first of ten new frigates; these will replace the Lupos and the Maestrales. The first ship will enter service in 2008 and one ship will be completed each year thereafter. These ships will be 5,000 tons and will have a wide variety of weapons and sensors. They will be capable of traveling 6,000 nautical miles at 18 knots cruising speed, and can dash at 27 knots in combat. The ships will be designed to stay at sea for 45 days without a port call. Italy wants highly automated ships with a crew of only 130; the Lupos have 177 crewmen while the Maestral's (which are 2/3 as big as the new frigates) have a crew of over 200. Weapons will include the Aster vertical-launch anti-aircraft missile, an anti-ship missile system to be selected later, a medium-caliber gun, a hull-mounted sonar, and a lightweight torpedo system. Two NH90 helicopters will be accommodated in the hangar. Italy will also receive its two Horizon-class air-defense destroyers in 2007 and 2009 and plans to build at least two more ships of this type.--Stephen V Cole


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